buying from Home Depot?????????

Lisa_Hendson(California)February 8, 2004

Hi all,

Would like to thank all who contribute their expertise to this great forum -- I'm really learning a lot!

Was wondering if you could share any stories or strategies about buying plants at Home Depot, Target, WalMart, etc. Seems their "expert" sales staff are of questionable expertise. Comments?

I'm a beginner on a budget and try to shop at local nurseries as much as possible, but the $11.99 Norfold Island Pine I bought from Home Depot goes for $60-$129 at local nurseries!

Thanks for any suggestions or stories!


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birdz_n_beez(z5-6 NY)

The first thing to do when buying any plant is to look it over. Check list includes:
1. roots coming out of bottom? (put it back)
2. leaves brown or yellow? [something wrong, or possible root damage due to lack of watering, put it back]
3. soil damp? [if not, might not have regular waterings. If everything else is good, take it home and give it a good drink]
Any obvious signs of plant disease would also be a put back. Generally you can find at least two or three good ones. If you find a store where they happened to hire an experienced gardener, those plants usually look the best.
If the plant is in the best condition it can be in, then I don't mind paying a bit more than say, going somewhere that one in fourteen plants is good.
Some places have awsome clearance prices, and even continue to water them after they have been red tagged. Those are the places to go!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2004 at 11:54AM
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Don't count on variety/cultivar names to be correct. They frequently by overruns/leftovers from large propagators, and put on their own labels, so all their pears will be Bartlett, apples will be Red or Golden Delicious, plums will be Santa Rosa, etc. - regardless of whether they really are, or not.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 11:27AM
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Don't buy irises from Wal-Mart. I purchased 3 2-packs of rhizomes; pink, white, Dover Beach. 5 out of the 6 bloomed dark purple, one a lighter purple (may have been Dover Beach).

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 7:00PM
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luseal(z 6-7 PA)

I buy 'winter gem' boxwood from home depot and lowes $5.99. they are excellent. Good price. I now need 200 'winter gem' and they only bring 20 in at a time, so I guess I have to schlept to every H.D. in get the rest. Does anyone know of a grower where I can get these box?.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2004 at 3:27PM
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bungalow_mikee(z10 CA)

I have found great plants from HD.
I've seen some great ones from OSH too.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2004 at 5:53AM
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kokopoko(z4 SD)

I've bought orchids from home depot that are still doing incredibly well.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2004 at 11:37AM
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if you find plants that are freshly delivered, healty looking and mis-marked variety is not important, you can find a good deal.
It pays to remember,
that more often than not,
cheap is expensive.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2004 at 2:38PM
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justmee(7 Okla.)

Don't forget that plants from Walmart and Home Depot are fully refundable for 1 year -- no matter what shape they are in. You just have to take back a carcass and a receipt. I bought a bunch of miniture roses from HD and they all died of spider mites so I took them all back. Last summer I bought a couple of bushes from HD that are "supposed" to be perennials in my area according to the HD 'experts' but which my books say are not. If those plants don't come back this spring, I am going to dig them up and take them back.

The only problem is hanging onto the receipt for a year. Also, HD once gave me a hard time by claiming that they only give the 1 year guarantee on perennials and not on annuals but the plant in question was a perennial -- at least in my garden. So, check out the "guarantee" language carefully. I think Walmart's guarantee is for all plants. So, if they die or don't perform well, take 'em back!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2004 at 12:29PM
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DallasMike(z8A DFW TX)

We have Home Depot Landscape Supply stores in Texas and they're as good as any nursery for standard landscaping plants. The plants are beautiful and well-labeled. They don't have the unusual goodies that most of us enjoy though -- just plants proven to do well in this area. I don't think that they're nationwide yet so you're probably out of luck until they build one in your area.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2004 at 10:35PM
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If you are just starting out and need to get lots of plants cheaply and aren't really concerned as to variety, go for it! I made a vow to myself last year not to succumb to their plants, unless in full flower or if a shrub, that I recognize the plant. 90% of the bulbs, vines, perennials that I have bought and nurtured turn out to be something else! But, I am at the stage of just wanting certain the discount stores are not the way to go. I have seen tomato labels on peppers, etc. and their staff is not knowledgable, to say the least.
They still have a place for certain gardeners.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2004 at 6:00AM
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The nurery manager in some HD stores will order unusual plants for customers from a list of plants available to them. Apparently, they received truckloads of shipment every two weeks.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2004 at 3:04AM
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banyan96720(USDAZ10 HI)

At all of these mass market stores find out the day(s) of the week they receive their stock to get the best selection. Don't expect real nursery service, but it could happen.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2004 at 3:37PM
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zone8grandma(PNW z8)

I work part time in a local nursery (to support my plant habit) and their prices (for the popular and common plants) are competitive with HD. I avoid Walmart like the plague. It's worthwhile to hold on to that receipt. The nursery where I work also has a one year guarantee (and they are VERY flexible about it).

Definitely follow that advice about inspecting the plants whereever you get it.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2004 at 12:55PM
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Twinkle(7 GA)

Don't rely on the employees at those places. Do your own research. Buy ASAP after the plants come in - they will come healthy from the grower, but may not be healthy after several weeks at the store. Good advice given above about labels.

Having said all that, you can get some nice looking plants at low prices from these places. Just be aware that some of your purchases may not work out.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2004 at 10:48AM
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Soeur(z6b TN)

I second the advice for buying freshly delivered material from the big box stores. Around here the common wisdom is to follow the delivery semi into the HD/Lowes/whatever parking lot and buy what you want when they unload it. Unfortunately that's the best condition the plants will be in, because they likely won't see enough water to keep them alive once they're at the store. They'll also be placed according what the store thinks merchandises well (in other words, shade loving plants in blasting sun at the entrance because they look good). They do offer a guarantee, which is a good thing because a lot of stuff you get there dies due to the abuse it's taken. I was told by someone who worked at a HD for a while that they basically count on most folks not taking the trouble to save a receipt and drag a dead plant back. This is particularly true of woody material, which can take some time to die. Perennials and annuals are a much better bet for survival, at least around here.

I haven't run into anybody working at these places that I would call particularly knowledgable, much less expert, but that could be a store-by-store thing.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2004 at 12:59PM
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kaerie22(z8 Austin, TX)

I have gotten plants I really like from all the big box stores. For instance, I have a couple of Wal Mart petunias in hanging baskets, and they must have 40 blooms each right now. Ususally, I can only afford the locally owned nurseries for really unusual stuff. If you can pay less for the same thing, why not? My practice is usually to go to the local places for advice and ideas, then buy what I can wherever it's on sale.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2004 at 8:05PM
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jbkd(z7 NJ)

That is why there are less and less local sources!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you drain them for their advice and don't buy, don't expect them to be there when you need them.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2004 at 9:13AM
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willy(4--5 ? NH)

I agree with you jbkd, Thats why all the small business are closing up. I try not to buy anything at wallyworld. willy

    Bookmark   April 8, 2004 at 10:01PM
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My local nursery had to close this winter because people are buying at HD, Franks and Lowe's. I'm broken hearted because of this. Their plants were more expensive but, better grown. They had a very knowlegable staff and were always very helpful. They also had a guarantee and they had a much wider variety of plants to offer but, I guess people are just looking for low prices. I hate to go to HD, etc. for plants because they always look half dead and no one ever waters the poor plants. I feel like yelling at the employees to water the Darn Plants-LOL.


    Bookmark   April 9, 2004 at 10:33PM
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Last year at Home Depot I saw one of the local nursery owners buying Azailas and reselling them at the nursery.
They thought they were good enough!

I have not had the best luck with their plants, I have about 5 to return.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2004 at 3:53AM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

Most important advice - try to buy right after they receive the plants. If there are a number of stores around you (I can actually choose from about 4 or 5) try and find the best. In my experience Home Depot nurserys are highly variable. I would love to live near the one by my parents in Florida. The plants are healty, there are employees around and they even seem knowledegable. Around here there is usually one cashire and one guy with a forklift restocking topsoil and mulch nearly running customers over.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 5:25PM
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Bottom line is if a tiny selection of garbage is what "everyone" wants, then that's all we're going to get if we only shop at big box plant departments. At least 50,000 kinds of outdoor plants are currently on the market in western North America. How many of these do you think are being offered by chain stores? There is no comparison between a mass outlet and in an independent operator.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2004 at 5:29PM
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plantsnobin(z6 IN)

I have a very small business selling perennials that you can't get anywhere else. I have decided to give up. People stop by here to see the gardens, rave that it beautiful and ask me for advice, then don't buy anything. They have usually just been to WalMart and want me to tell them how to grow what they bought there. I have been patient and understanding, but I am afraid that the majority of people are pretty stupid. What good does a one year warranity do you? People don't seem to understand how foolish it is to save 50 cents on a plant and lose a year in the garden. Sorry to seem so negative, but I guess I am still steaming from the lady who was mad because I wouldn't dig up and sell her a five year old wisteria in full bloom growing along my fence.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 3:06PM
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kristie73(z5 Co Springs)

I've been buying plants at Home Depot and the nursery. I haven't seen a difference in the quality of plant. Usually HD doesn't have what I want. I never see anything worth buying at Walmart. I did buy some petunias from Target. A few nurseries have been way overpriced. I got a 10 inch Sago Palm at Home Depot for $20 and the nursery was $35. Usually the prices are about the same. There's also more larger (expensive) pots/plants at the nurseries. I couldn't find small pots of hydrangeas at any nursery, so I went to Home Depot. They didn't have the variety I wanted, but they did have the right size and price.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 4:16PM
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kendal(8 PNW)

I had to relandscape my whole lot; first I went to a nursery that someone recommended and bought a lot of plants I put back some and was glad I did because I then went to HD and found the same size plants for about 75% cheaper. They were in excellent shape, and I was able to buy basically 2/3 more plants for for them same amount of money spent on a nursery. All plants are doing beautifully, and I can't tell which ones were bought at the nursery and which ones were bought a HD. As much as I would love to support smaller businesses the fact remains I can't afford too. Until I win the lottery *G* HD will get most of my business; the plants at our store are excellent quality, and offer double the guarantee.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 10:58AM
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almost all of my plants are from HD and LOWE'S, reasonable price and good quality. alway buy plants as soon as they arrived . as for the advice, i alway ask the plant distributors for the HD,lowe's or whoever unloading the plants at the time. they are industrial nursery owner who have plenty of experience and willing to share. as for the HD and Lowe's employee or plant exper i suppose - they seem don't have a clue! they are just average workers, who have neither knowledge nor passion for plants and no hesitate to let their plants fall over or dry out!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2004 at 5:54AM
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little_dani(9, S. Tex Coast)

One reason that plants don't seem to thrive at WM, HD, Lowes, etc. is because they don't feed the plants the way the growers do. Everytime the grower waters the plants they are fed. In our area, the big stores use city water on the plants and the soil mix that the plants are growing in are heavy on the peat and dry out quickly as well as deplete the nutrients in what soil is there. The plants don't stand a chance.

I seldom buy any plants from these sources. It is just like throwing my money down a deep hole.

One thing you can do to increase your supply of perennials, annuals, shrubs and such is to propagate them yourself. Most things are relatively easy to root from cuttings, and when you root cuttings from a blooming plant, the newly rooted plant is already a mature plant and ready to bloom as well. The other good source of new and plentiful plants is seeds! The varieties of seeds available now is just astounding! Take advantage!


    Bookmark   July 10, 2004 at 6:15PM
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Len_Hanson_ACCNP(sunset 14)

maybe i can help clear up some confusion here
ive worked in the nusresry industry for 10 years now and i am a buyer for one of these types of chain stores, orchard supply hardware.
truthfully, home depot, lowes, walmart, taget, all of these
we all buy from similar if not the same sources as each other. now independent nurseries and garden centers, buy from the same growers as we buy from with one major difference, some do actually grom their own material to sell at a slightly higher profit. most chain garden centers are focused on one thing and that is turning the product so sitting on it and waiting for it to grow doesnt make good business sense especially when their space is entirely taken up for merchandise.
alot of independent nurseries get their plants already grown and ready to go to the consumer, just like i buy them,
the quality is the same because they come from the same grower, the same crop. the biggest difference in what the plant quality looks like is when the consumer goes to shop for the product. alot of times you go into a chain store and the plants are wilting the soil in the pot is dry and theres no clerk to be found or none that are knowledgeable.
the key is to shop around, find that one place that caters to your needs and has the product selection and the quality you like, remember the plants when they come off the delivery truck are virtually the same its the finished product that counts
look for a place that hass a friendly and knowledgeable sales staff and that keeps a clean and neat place to shop,
one clue is to look at the way the employees are working, are they putting plants away or hanging out with other employees when much of the plants in the nursery are obviously dying from a lack of water?
these are the places you should stter clear of. the places that do the right thing in these circumstances and that focus on making an enjoyable shopping experience for the consumer are the ones you should goto. price is definately a concern. most chain stores now do price matching so ask. so to answer the question. yeah go ahead and give home depot a shot if the satisfy your needs. go for it.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2004 at 9:06PM
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I have three stores that offer a selection of plants nearby home; Lowes, Home Depot, and the Houston Garden Supply, a chain of nurseries. There is another nearby, but I haven't been to it, so I didn't count it, though that might be short sighted :) I usually go to Lowes over Home Depot, because the staff is a bit friendlier, but as people have said, they very very rarely know anything about the plants they are selling. However, at the Houston Garden Supply, where half the employees are not very well versed in the English language, you get that same lack of knowledge, with less of a helpful spirit. If you ask the people at Houston Garden Supply if they have something, they shrug, and say they don't know. At Lowe's, they will at least try to help you find it, or find someone who might know more than they do. Though the plants you get at the Houston Garden Supply are usually more expensive, you usually also either get more plants or larger plants for that higher price. However, I have purchased a lot of plants from both places, and all of the plants from both places are thriving, so I wouldn't discount thee big stores for plants just because their people aren't the most well informed.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 11:05PM
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I buy plants at HD or Lowe's only if I know the plant and its needs; if the plant looks like it will recover from the non-TLC it has received; and if it is on sale at a price that I can afford to have the plant fail.
Otherwise, I go to a privately owned nursery where the plants are cared for, bumped up in pot size when necessary, and where someone working there knows enough to advise me well. I have never encountered an employee at a big box nursery department who knows plants.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 9:57AM
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It goes without question that most nurseries can't compete with box stores on sticker price. But, like most things, you get what you pay for. Box stores only sell plants that they can get dirt-cheap deals on, and are often the same plants that local nurseries have already passed on. Why? Because they know a crappy plant when they see one and understand that the cost involved with nursing that plant back to health is higher than not selling it at all. The reason box stores can get away with it is because they deal in higher volumes and can afford to throw money away.

There are also many growers that simply do not sell to box stores. They are putting their names on plants just like the nurseries are. Growers like Monrovia know that their plants are top-notch and refuse to have them sold in box stores by staff who do not have adequate expertise.

Plants from box stores are also not as healthy, as many of you have attested. Is it worth it to spend half the price on a plant that might never look good and need to be replaced next spring? Looking at the long-term economics of it, you're much better off putting one plant in the ground than two, no matter what their price.

Sure, you can always get great deals on annuals that will not survive the winter anyway at box stores. Houseplants as well. However, annuals and houseplants provide very little (if any) economic returns. Your property value isn't affected at all. On the other hand, well placed trees can not only improve the resale price of your property, they can also reduce energy costs quite significantly.

Support your local nurseries. Unless, of course, you live in an area where everything grows no matter what you do. But if you live in areas where the environment provides a challenge, only the locals will know the intricacies of planting in your zone and conditions.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 2:28PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

>Growers like Monrovia know that their plants are top-notchexcept for being rootbound.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 3:52PM
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